Mindanao students protest vs. ‘Bangsamoro’


MAGUINDANAO: Selected elite students belonging to more than 4,000 scholars of the Maguin–danao Program on Education Assistance and Community Empowerment (MagPEACE) from various schools and universities in Central Mindanao have joined the information campaign on the current Mindanao peace process, staging Thursday a debate on the constitutionality of the proposed Bangsamoro political entity.

In the final round, three debaters from Mindanao State University-Maguindanao campus argued against the constitutionality of the proposed new geopolitical region, claiming that the constitution recognizes only two areas of autonomy—the Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras.

Tinkering with the term “Muslim Mindanao” or replacing it with Bangsamoro alone needs an amendment in the constitution, and the proposed region is, therefore, unconstitutional per se, said the MSU team.

The debate’s board of judges composed of academicians adjudged the MSU team as over-all champion in the competition, which was joined by 11 teams. The winning team’s lead speaker, junior student Nisambai Mamalinta was also declared “best debater.”

The rival team from the Cotabato City State Polytechnic College, which affirmed the constitutionality of the Bangsamoro region, landed second in the debate. But its lead debater was adjudged “best speaker.”

The judges gave the MSU team the bigger points in the arguments, even as Rep. Zajid “Dhong” Mangudadatu of Ma–guindanao second district said at the interval of the debate that the majority of Congress members have deemed the proposed region constitutional.

As proposed in the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro and four annexes forged already by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the government peace panels, the new region would replace the 24-year-old Autonomous Region in Muslim Minda–nao sometime in 2015.

Officials of the two negotiating panels have said that a final comprehensive agreement may be inked next month.


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